4 Things To Remember When Planning A Website.

4 Things To Remember When Planning A Website.

We have compiled some website planning top tips.Perhaps you have recently started a new business (congratulations) and need a website or perhaps it is time for a refresh of your current website. In either case, it is important to carry out some basic planning before you get going. Even if you have a trusted website designer, you know your business best and we would recommend you get involved in the planning.

How do you choose the right domain name when planning a website? (if a new website).

When choosing a domain name for your website – and if appropriate, the name for your business – we would recommend you:

  1. Keep the name as short as possible and ensure it is easy to pronounce/spell.
  2. Avoid hyphens – It can be difficult for customers to remember to add hyphens to your domain name and they can be associated with spam.
  3. Check whether the .co.uk version is available? Unless you are an international business, .co.uk is going to be the easiest for people to remember. You might also want to buy any associated domains (.com, .net, .uk) to protect your brand.
  4. Use keywords in your domain name if possible.
  5. Search for the name to see what else is out there. You don’t want to end up competing against an established business.
  • Do a trademark search to make sure you won’t get into trouble with other brands.
  • Check on Companies’ House to see if the name has already been registered.
  • Check on social media channels to see if the name is available. It can confuse your audience to use a different social media username than your     domain name.

How do you know which keywords/keyword phrases to use?

We cover this whole subject in much more detail in our Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation course but here are some starting points:

  1. As you know, a keyword is a word that is entered into search engines to find your product or service. Ideally, you want your product/service to appear on page 1 of the results.
  2. We would recommend creating a list of keyword/keyword phrases and then design your website pages around the most important keyword phrases rather than designing the website first.
  3. Your keyword research should:
  • Include words your audience will use to find you – this might not be the same words your team use internally.
  • Look at what keywords your competitors are using. We use the Mozbar Chrome extension to make this easier.
  • Use tools like Uber Suggest, Google Keyword planner, or Keywords Everywhere to help you research keywords to include on your website.
  • Identify the main phrases that will form the structure of your website and make a list of phrases to use in future blog posts.
  1. Each page on your website should focus on a different keyword phrase and the phrase should be added to the places on your site search engines would expect to find them. You may find you need more pages than you first thought.
  2. Decide whether to include a location in your keyword phrase to make it easier to find the website in your local area.

What functionality should I include on my website?

  1. Be clear about what functionality you require on your website. Do you need a simple brochure site or do you need to have an e-commerce element?
  2. Are you wanting to create links to newsletter sign-up forms, landing pages with downloads, membership functionality? What can be included in a ‘phase 1’ and what can be included later?
  3. Experience has shown, it is often better to get the basic elements working and live and then add to it rather than trying to get all the functionality working immediately.
  4. The beauty of content management systems, like WordPress, is that you can bolt on additional functionality using plugins relatively simply so you don’t need to develop all aspects of the site at once. However, I would plan the full functionality required to ensure the customer journey remains correct.

What is the customer journey?

A customer journey describes each of the types of audience you want to attract (personas) and identifies all the touchpoints they have with your business. You can plot the journey and make sure the journey they are taking is achieving the overall objectives for the business.

When you are planning a website, you need to consider how people will enter the individual website pages and what you want them to do next. You only have a few seconds to tell people what the next step is so you need to make it clear.

Don’t forget about the journey on a mobile device. When looking at a website on a mobile device, most people won’t use the menu. You need to have clear buttons or a call to action to tell people what to do next.

If you want to create a website yourself, Concise would suggest our WordPress for Websites bundle. This bundle includes our SEO, images, and WordPress courses together with a free development area to create your website before you need to purchase hosting to make it live.

Alternatively, you might want to take advantage of our full website development services. We work with you to plan your site around relevant keyword phrases and your customer journey and will create a beautiful website that works.

Are you planning a website? Do let us know how you get on in the comments section below.

Are You Making The Best Use Of Your Social Media Profiles?

Are You Making The Best Use Of Your Social Media Profiles?

Are your companies social media profiles relevant and up to date?

How many of you have social media profiles for your business? Have you spent any time reviewing them recently? How do they reflect on the brand of your business?

Do you know that there are still many businesses out there who set up social media profiles a long time ago but haven’t really looked at them since?

Ever since we started Concise way back in 2008, we have always had the same mantra – use a few channels well rather than loads of channels badly.

In our qualification City & Guilds Diploma in Digital Marketing, we have a scenario in which a business does a search for a potential supplier. This supplier has empty or very old content in their social media profiles. The question we pose is “What does this say about the supplier – how trustworthy are they?” Our suggested answer is that more research would be needed before starting work with the supplier – they might not be in business anymore – or they may just not have the time and skills to keep their profiles up to date. It isn’t helpful to make your potential customers have to do more work before contacting you though – it probably isn’t the best first introduction.

How do you ensure your business profiles appear trustworthy? I would suggest at a minimum:

  • The social media profile picture should be a logo or professional photo of an individual (depending on the business/profile under discussion).
  • The bio should be complete and explain the products and services offered.
  • Accurate contact information or link to website included where possible.
  • Ideally, the cover photo (that big image behind the profile picture) if one exists should be a branded image. This is a marketing space and you can change it regularly depending on the time of the year, products/services you are promoting, or offers you want to shout about.
  • The social media profile should be active – not only post regularly but also reply to any comments. If you just post without replying, you can look like you are just a robot 😊
  • Connections – you should be building up your follower numbers. A profile not followed by anybody is unlikely to appear trustworthy!

Want to take your social media profile one step further? I would encourage you to:

  • Add branding elements to the images you post. This might be as simple as adding a logo or could take the form of creating posts around elements of your branding.
  • Focus on sharing information that is useful or added value rather than information about you and your business.
  • Use hashtags – where appropriate for the channel. This may involve posting separately to different channels. Instagram for example, can take up to 30 hashtags, this does not look right on Facebook posts.
  • Identify and develop your brand voice to ensure consistency across posts and channels to ensure you identify with your target audience and correctly represent your brand.
  • Your social media profile is how you appear to somebody when you are not in the room – don’t ignore the impression you can make.

If you need help with your online profiles, do get in touch or call on 07799 634835 or explore our social media content management packages.

Scott of the Antarctic teaches us about website page speed.

Scott of the Antarctic teaches us about website page speed.

What can Scott of the Antarctic teach us about website page speed?

Back in March last year I wrote a blog post about website page speed loading and how it was increasingly a ranking factor for search engines.

A year on from that post, website page speed loading has become an even more important aspect of optimising for search engine traffic.

Did you know that a 1 second delay in your page loading could reduce your page views by 11% and can reduce your conversion rate by up to 7%?

There are many aspects that control how fast a website page loads and some of these were covered in my post last year but in this one, I wanted to discuss the idea of caching and“expires headers” which can make a big difference to how Google and other search engines view your site.

What is a cache?

You may have heard the tale of Captain Scott of the Antarctic and the famous quote of his companion Lawrence Oates:

“I am just going outside and may be some time”

before disappearing out into a blizzard never to return. You may not know, however, that Captain Scott (who died 29th March 1912) and his group had been stuck due to the poor conditions only a mere 11 miles from a cache of food which may have saved them.

We explore website page speed in our latest blog.

Henry Bowers (1883 – 1912) [Public Domain]

The word “cache” is a 19th Century word derived from the French “Cacher” meaning “to hide” (source) it means a “collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place” it is sometimes used to refer to a hidden cache of food or weaponry but in modern times you are most likely to hear it in the context of computing where it refers to a collection of files, programme instructions or data held for fast retrieval by the computer system.

People are generally most familiar with the word when it is used to refer to a web browser cache and it is this that I am going to talk more about here.

The Browser Cache Thingamajig

Website page speed is affected by many things. When you type a website URL (domain name) into your browser’s address bar, the first thing that the browser must do is look up the IP address to locate the files and data for the website that it refers to. 

This is done by referencing a DNS (Domain Name System) server that “resolves ” that URL and points the browser to the correct location of the website files. Your browser then sends a request to the web server saying“ I want the files, images and scripts for this webpage please” (not in quite so many words) and the web server will then start sending these to the browser. 

Browsers are clever though and if you have visited this particular web page before, it might still have some of the files, scripts and images stored in its cache. It is far quicker to load these up from a local store than to request and download them from the web server.  Loading the files from the web server requires the browser and server to talk to each other which takes time and relies on the speed and latency in the connection between them. Therefore, if a browser has the files locally, it will not download them again from the web server before loading the web page up and displaying it to the user.

You may have experienced the effects of this yourself  – have you ever been speaking to somebody on the phone or via Skype or a similar service talking about a website that you and the other person are both looking at only to realise that one of you is seeing different information?

“Try clearing your browser cache”

is often the solution that is suggested in these situations and for good reason because you may be seeing files and data stored in your browser’s cache rather than the latest version that resides on the web server.

“Those that do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

said George Santayana and at the time he probably wasn’t thinking about browser caching but it leads nicely on to me talking about the need for the currency of information.

What if your browser is storing images, data and instructions from a web page that are no longer up to date? The information has changed on the web server but the version that the user is shown in the browser window is different and now out of date?

This can cause a problem just as big, if not bigger, than that of slow loading web pages so what can we do about it? What we can do is set some rules for the lifespan of different types of file or data that will be stored by the browser in its cache.

For example, if we specify that certain elements, say *.png images, have a lifespan of 1 week before they are likely to change, then the browser will know that if it has .png images from a particular webpage that are more than 1 week old, it will need to load them again from the web server. Similarly, if the .png images in the browser cache are less than the specified 1 week old, the browser knows it can use the faster option of loading up the locally stored copies.

It is a balancing act between webpage speed through caching and the currency of the webpage and if no lifespan is specified for an element of a webpage it could potentially be kept in the browser cache and used over and over until such time as you clear that cache.

If you are still with me at this point and not yet thinking about wandering off into the nearest blizzard never to return… then read on for an explanation of Expires Headers.

How to Use Expires Headers

Put simply, expires headers tell the browser whether they should download a specific file from the server or whether they should load it from the browser’s cache. You can use these to specify a rule for individual files or for types of files. The idea is that if a browser and server know the lifespan of a particular type of file, they then have to talk to each other less in order to render the complete web page. The fewer requests that a browser has to make (and the fewer responses required from the server), the faster the web page can load up. Specifying a caching policy for the elements of a website is sometimes referred to as leveraging the browser cache.

The rules are specified in your htaccess file which resides on the web server and is one of the first things that will be read when a browser requests a webpage. They should be written in the format below:

<IfModule mod_expires.c>

  ExpiresActive On

  # Images

  ExpiresByType image/jpeg”accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType image/gif”accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType image/png”accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType image/webp”accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType image/svg+xml”accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType image/x-icon”accessplus 1 year”

  # Video

  ExpiresByType video/mp4″accessplus 1 year”

  ExpiresByType video/mpeg”accessplus 1 year”

  # CSS, JavaScript

  ExpiresByType text/css”accessplus 1 month”

  ExpiresByType text/javascript”accessplus 1 month”

  ExpiresByType application/javascript”accessplus 1 month”

  # Others

  ExpiresByType application/pdf”accessplus 1 month”

  ExpiresByType application/x-shockwave-flash”accessplus 1 month”


This example shows images being given a lifespan of 1 year and javascript files a lifespan of 1 month.

Be very careful if you edit your htaccess file because it is very easy to take your whole website down if you make a mistake!

Proper use of expires headers can reduce the number of requests that a browser must make to load up any given web page and they help to ensure that the user is seeing the most up to date version of that web page. Search engines prefer sites that have properly defined Expires Headers rules over those that do not because, in general, those with the rules specified will load up quicker(ina like for like comparison).

Have you leveraged browser caching for your website? It is a simple case of placing code similar to the above example into your htaccess file (or asking your web developer to do so on your behalf). In fact, the above code will work for most websites and can be copied and pasted into your htaccess file – just adjust the lifespan of each type of file to suit the frequency with which they will change on your website.

Not yet convinced that the merits of page speed are worth the effort? Why not have a look at this excellent infographic from our friends over at Hosting Tribunal.

Originally published at www.concisetraining.net on 11th March 2019.